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Parents need to be educated about HPV vaccinations for daughters

London, UK: Parents of young girls may soon be offered the opportunity to have their daughters immunised against a sexually transmitted virus that is the major cause of cervical cancer, the 4th International Conference on Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Medicine heard today (Thursday 30 March).

Professor Henry Kitchener told the conference, organised by the Teenage Cancer Trust charity, that progress in developing vaccines against the human papillomavirus (HPV) had reached a stage where they were soon to be submitted for licensing. But he warned that it was important there were programmes of education for women and men, particularly parents, about HPV and cervical cancer.

Professor Kitchener, of the Academic Unit of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Manchester, UK, said: "It is vital that people understand the context in which HPV vaccination is being proposed and that they realise that it is not a treatment for the virus once it has been contracted, or for cervical cancer if the disease has started to develop. Vaccination should not be misconstrued as a green light for sexually permissive behaviour ?rather, it is an effective means of preventing HPV infection when young women are most susceptible in their teenage and young adult years.

"The origins of cervical cancer lie in HPV infection of the cervix, a sexually transmitted infection most frequently acquired by women shortly after they start sexual activity. In a minority of women, the HPV infection persists and may result in pre-cancerous changes; these can develop into cancerous changes in these women, particularly if they are unscreened. Testing for HPV infection is becoming talked about more, as is the potential of vaccination. In particular, there are two types of HPV, types 16 and 18, at which vaccine research is being directed. HPV 16 and 18 are thought to be responsible for 70% of cervical cancers worldwide.

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Source:Teenage Cancer Trust


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